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AT&T to allow Skype calls via its 3G network on iPhone [u]

post #1 of 38
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AT&T announced Tuesday that it will allow Apple to enable voice over IP applications such as Skype to run on its 3G wireless data network [updated with official info].

AT&T said it recently took a "fresh look" at VoIP capabilities, and decided it would be a valuable capability that would be an "attractive option" for consumers.

"iPhone is an innovative device that dramatically changed the game in wireless when it was introduced just two years ago," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO, AT&T Mobility & Consumer Markets. "Today’s decision was made after evaluating our customers’ expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer."

Skype President Josh Silverman praised the decision. Previously, such applications were only allowed to operate via Wi-Fi.

"We applaud today’s announcement by AT&T to open up its 3G network to Internet calling applications such as Skype," Silverman said. "It is the right step for AT&T, Apple, millions of mobile Skypers and the Internet itself. Nonetheless, the positive actions of one company are no substitute for a government policy that protects openness and benefits consumers and we look forward to further innovations that will enable even more mobile Skype calling."

Earlier Tuesday, a report from The Washington Post alleged that a source "close to the thinking of AT&T executives" passed word that officials could agree to VoIP services on all AT&T handsets, including the iPhone. However, the report also incorrectly stated that Google Voice is a VoIP service. In reality, Google Voice requires a telephone connection with a reachable number to allow the service to call its users.

The announcement this week coincides with the wireless industry's CTIA conference due to start Wednesday. Such a change could be due to increased pressure from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on wireless network operators.

"As the debate over an FCC proposal for stronger net neutrality rules escalates, some industry sources speculate that the phone giant may make an announcement at the CTIA conference that shows it is moving toward more open policies on its wireless network," the report said. "The proposed rules would prohibit firms like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner from blocking applications on their telecom, cable and mobile networks."

Last month, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski spoke out in favor of net neutrality, stating that the commission must be active in preserving a free and open Internet.

As a strictly VoIP service, Skype would need to run on AT&T's 3G data network in the absence of Wi-Fi. The current version of the iPhone Skype application only operates via Wi-Fi due to an agreement between Apple and AT&T over network data usage.

The situation with Google Voice, however, is different. Apple and AT&T have both claimed the wireless carrier played no part in the non-acceptance of the Google Voice application in the iPhone App Store -- that decision was made entirely by Apple, due to the fact that the service duplicates the phone's core features. Google has contended that its application was rejected from the App Store; while Apple has argued that it just hasn't accepted it.

Traditionally a VoIP service, Vonage also had its own software released on the App Store this week. However, unlike Skype, the Vonage application uses AT&T's phone service, not Internet data. Users who utilize the Vonage application would pay for minutes from Vonage, but cell phone minutes with AT&T would also be used up.
post #2 of 38
This will cause even more debate on the delayed decision on Google Voice. I see Skype and Google has very similar products and wonder now why Google Voice is not approved.

I did say i would rather use Skype then Google any day and I am getting my wish.

Time for the debate to start!
post #3 of 38
I think carriers can slowly kiss voice revenue goodbye. Horray!
post #4 of 38
Can anyone say Kodak?
post #5 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by souliisoul View Post

This will cause even more debate on the delayed decision on Google Voice. I see Skype and Google has very similar products and wonder now why Google Voice is not approved.

Hm, actually Skype and Google Voice are almost completely different products (they do both offer some voicemail functionality though). Skype is mainly VoIP and Google Voice is mainly a unified phone number with a personal switchboard and voice mail box with some added texting capabilities. Skype has been approved using WiFi only, because the existing contract between AT&T and Apple includes such restrictions. Google Voice has neither been rejected nor approved, and the reported concerns did not deal with provider issues, but focused on Apple being unhappy about Google basically taking over the phone and voicemail parts of the iPhone, subsequently creating potential confusion (1. for the users having to deal with two phone/voice mail apps, 2. for developers being able to implement calls to Apple's but not Google's app). I can't say if these concerns are valid, as I have of course not seen the actual implementation. I can imagine that some of these points may be valid though. Apple takes great care to keep the device user-friendly and consistent (even at the expense of features), allowing Google to make the device as cluttered and diverse as the Android platform is not in Apple's interest.

If AT&T does allow Google Voice officially, I can see Apple and Google working together to integrate GV in a way that serves both parties interests (e.g. make the voicemail feature to be used a system setting and integrate switchboard functionality into Preferences). This would make sense and benefit the users without making the device a mess.
post #6 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Can anyone say Kodak?

Did you see that documentary on Kodak and the way it had to move with times, i.e. get on digital bandwagon or die very fast death! Not sure if the program was over hyped, but interesting look how management and staff can work together to save a company.
post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

Hm, actually Skype and Google Voice are almost completely different products (they do both offer some voicemail functionality though). Skype is mainly VoIP and Google Voice is mainly a unified phone number with a personal switchboard and voice mail box with some added texting capabilities. Skype has been approved using WiFi only, because the existing contract between AT&T and Apple includes such restrictions. Google Voice has neither been rejected nor approved, and the reported concerns did not deal with provider issues, but focused on Apple being unhappy about Google basically taking over the phone and voicemail parts of the iPhone, subsequently creating potential confusion (1. for the users having to deal with two phone/voice mail apps, 2. for developers being able to implement calls to Apple's but not Google's app). I can't say if these concerns are valid, as I have of course not seen the actual implementation. I can imagine that some of these points may be valid though. Apple takes great care to keep the device user-friendly and consistent (even at the expense of features), allowing Google to make the device as cluttered and diverse as the Android platform is not in Apple's interest.

If AT&T does allow Google Voice officially, I can see Apple and Google working together to integrate GV in a way that serves both parties interests (e.g. make the voicemail feature to be used a system setting and integrate switchboard functionality into Preferences). This would make sense and benefit the users without making the device a mess.

Thanks for the clarification.
post #8 of 38
Given the AT&T network's ability to handle regular phone calls, I have a feeling the "user experience" of VOIP over their 3G network is going to be lame, lame, lame.
post #9 of 38
This was possible with the 3.0 and 3.1 development seeds that I had months ago. I don't know, cause I haven't tried it after the release on the cell network.
post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by souliisoul View Post

Did you see that documentary on Kodak and the way it had to move with times, i.e. get on digital bandwagon or die very fast death! Not sure if the program was over hyped, but interesting look how management and staff can work together to save a company.

Yes I did and how true. They really have made the effort. It will be interesting to see how the carriers will do in 5- 10 years. So far it looks like AT&T here is not very good at anticipating things.
post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by eh270 View Post

Given the AT&T network's ability to handle regular phone calls, I have a feeling the "user experience" of VOIP over their 3G network is going to be lame, lame, lame.

And to think I can remember the day when I was the only one on here stating how awful AT&T is and was told to mind myself. Now it's like every other post blasts AT&T.
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Can anyone say Kodak?

Excellent analogy.

move forward or die
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post #13 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

I think carriers can slowly kiss voice revenue goodbye. Horray!

You do recognize the implications of allowing Skype/GV?
Not trying to sound preachy, but carriers recognize that the bandwidth of voice will greatly decrease as a proportion of data, and since future models will include data as the bulk of revenue, voice becomes the cheap commodity, and the data the rare commodity. The iPhone did do this...open their eyes that cellular voice is just data, and not much compared to what people will really use.

What this means is that they'll allow all the GV & Skype you want, but will charge you for data. It will be hard for them to increase the data rates, but you can be sure they'll never drop the $30 for an iPhone plan. This bugs me, because I was hoping they would lower their data plans $5 or $10 dollars, and offer multi-smartphone plan discounts.

At the least, even if not lower the data plan, I hope that AT&T and Verizon will drop their lowest A-List/Friends & Family plans down from the 1400 minutes/month to the 400-700 minute plans. Even a favorite three or five would be great.

Personally, I hate Skype's voice quality. Hopefully GV will maintain their quality, or even better, improve before leaving beta.

We do have to realize the high cost they charge us is for the totally lopsided revenue streams (cash flow) of investing in a network, advertising, and maintenance/upgrades until you have a steady cash stream from subscribers. They don't care too much as long as their quality approximates that of competitors until they get to their next round of technology. Of course, they're happy to underestimate revenues and pocket profits, but they'll always keep their eyes on buttering their own bread...as well they should. I would hate to see the turmoil created by one of the main 3 or 4 carriers bite the dust. That would just be reason to jack up prices more (takeover costs, reduced competition, etc.)
post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by randythot View Post

You do recognize the implications of allowing Skype/GV?

Stop lumping GV and Skype together, they are completely different. GV uses barely any data (voicemail, SMS and initiating calls only), and calls made with GV use your AT&T minutes.
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by souliisoul View Post

Did you see that documentary on Kodak and the way it had to move with times, i.e. get on digital bandwagon or die very fast death! Not sure if the program was over hyped, but interesting look how management and staff can work together to save a company.

What was the name of this documentary? I'd really like to see it!
post #16 of 38
Why the frack is there a problem with a Google Voice app??? I would encourage a 100 page manifesto describing AT&T and their crazy business decisions.

GV which uses minutes gets crapped on and now Skype gets the ok with no minutes used? Really?

Apple needs to take a beating on this as well. Look at their response to the FTC. Since AT&T will allow Skype to make VOIP on 3G, why does VOIP even matter now like it did 4 weeks ago???

I feel like we are going to wake up one day in the next 3 months and find out the iPhone is available from Verizon and AT&T knows it now and is starting to throw in the kitchen sink because they realize they offer complete crap for coverage. A lot of back peddling going on for sure...
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post #17 of 38
First pop-up windows, then banners, then corrupted search results, and then sponsored Pins on Google Maps......


I wonder if Google will force me to listen to an ad before the call is connected.
post #18 of 38
Kodak is not a good analogy for ATT. Kodak had 9 billion in revenues last year and are diversified. (they also lost money, but they're not going away) And wireless is not going to die. Skype over ATT? You have to pay ATT!
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post #19 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

I think carriers can slowly kiss voice revenue goodbye. Horray!

What are you smoking? You think they will "kiss voice revenue goodbye" and not raise the rates for data only service. You actually think you will use Skype for your voice calls and not have to pay more for your 3G w/o voice plan? So you will be paying Skype for voice calls AND you will be paying at&t more money to use Skype on your data plan. Boy, the schools need to start teaching business 101 to high schoolers. The carriers will not take losing revenue lightly. You WILL pay, one way or other.
post #20 of 38
What is there to debate? Apple already stated why it has not yet approved Google Voice. It stated to the FCC, "The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhones distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhones core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone. For example, on an iPhone, the Phone icon that is always shown at the bottom of the Home Screen launches Apples mobile telephone application, providing access to Favorites, Recents, Contacts, a Keypad, and Visual Voicemail. The Google Voice application replaces Apples Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Apples Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hubreplacing the iPhones text messaging feature. In addition, the iPhone users entire Contacts database is transferred to Googles servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time."

Quote:
Originally Posted by souliisoul View Post

This will cause even more debate on the delayed decision on Google Voice. I see Skype and Google has very similar products and wonder now why Google Voice is not approved.

I did say i would rather use Skype then Google any day and I am getting my wish.

Time for the debate to start!
post #21 of 38
Not really. Kodak is still in business, and doesn't look to be going anywhere soon. Polaroid would be a better example. It went Bankrupt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BuzDots View Post

Excellent analogy.

move forward or die
post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Boy, the schools need to start teaching business 101 to high schoolers.

And, you might add, basement-dwellers!
post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Can anyone say Kodak?

Kodak.
post #24 of 38
Polaroid.
post #25 of 38
Skype president responds:

Quote:
Since launching our iPhone application six months ago, people have downloaded and installed Skype on 10% of all iPhone and iPod touch devices sold - making it clear that people are extremely interested in taking Skype conversations with them on the go.

All of us at Skype applaud today's announcement by AT&T (in an FCC filing to be published shortly update, it's here in PDF format) that it'll open up its 3G network to Internet calling applications such as Skype. It's the right step for AT&T, Apple, millions of mobile Skype users and the Internet itself.


Nonetheless, the positive actions of one company are no substitute for a government policy that protects openness and benefits consumers. We're all looking forward to further developments that will let people use Skype on any device, on any network.

http://share.skype.com/sites/en/2009..._move_att.html
post #26 of 38
Color me surprised by AT&T. I never would have thought they'd allow this. The skeptical side of me is waiting for how they cripple it...
post #27 of 38
Just in time. I was about to ditch my international calling card after they doubled their rates. Going to use Skype full time now
post #28 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

I think carriers can slowly kiss voice revenue goodbye. Horray!

Then again, it wouldn't be out of the question for AT&T to buy Skype, or even Vonage.

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post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Then again, it wouldn't be out of the question for AT&T to buy Skype, or even Vonage.

Excellent point.

Although, I hope it's not Vonage -- I was an early adopter, much to my dismay. There are some things that you experience that you shudder at the prospect of having to deal with again (e.g., an appendectomy), and Vonage was like that. \
post #30 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post

Skype president responds:


http://share.skype.com/sites/en/2009..._move_att.html

Note to Skype: the government isn't going to legislate you a market. Unless you give enough money to the right politicians, at least.
post #31 of 38
How do you use it on iPhone?
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post #32 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Not really. Kodak is still in business, and doesn't look to be going anywhere soon. Polaroid would be a better example. It went Bankrupt.

You missed his point, he was stating that carriers are at cross road like Kodak was with concern to digital and flim. Thy had to make some hard business decisions to ensure continued survival of company.

AT&T and other carriers will have decide what is their business model in future to adapt to the Skype/Vonage competition. It better start planning ahead, then wait for competition to become a threat and by then, you are behind in the game.
post #33 of 38
What would we all be w/out GOOG?

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People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

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post #34 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

And, you might add, basement-dwellers!


Good point, as their parents pay for their iPhone plan anyway. As long as Mommy and Daddy pay for everything they don't need to know how the world really works.
post #35 of 38
Hasn't the ship already sailed on this one? I have the lowest calling plan possible for the iPhone. Still, my wife and I never come close to using up our minutes. If we were able to stop paying for minutes, we have enough roll-over minutes to live on for more than a year. Do we really need more voice options? Do enough people still use enough voice for it to matter? Could Skype even handle the load? I suspect many are in my boat where they are already at the minimum plan. AT&T will not be loosing anything from us. The only thing I see this effecting is the international market. What am I missing?
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post #36 of 38
Did I miss the start date for this Skype access on 3G?
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post #37 of 38
iChat for iPhone now?
post #38 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post

Stop lumping GV and Skype together, they are completely different. GV uses barely any data (voicemail, SMS and initiating calls only), and calls made with GV use your AT&T minutes.

The issue of lumping GV & Skype is legitimate to consider. As AT&T is now introducing their A-List service, it is possible to use your GV number in your A-List for all incoming calls free. Also, initiating calls from GV on your computer pops your GV number on your Caller ID, and would make those calls free for outgoing calls.

Therefore, in the end, both VoIP based Skype and GV (which could easily become a VoIP service), use approximately the same order of magnitude of data, then it becomes not a voice "line" issue like clogging up a PBX or counting POTS line, but negotiable data packets at a much smaller magnitude than live video feeds, movie downloads, and heavy web browsing.

This brings me back to my main beef. In the end, I believe all voice service will be ***FREE***, but the cost will be bundled into the data as a minority, so carriers will price their model around the data plan, and your $30/month for the iPhone and others will become much more difficult to lower.
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